A Completing of the Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen — A Review

A Completing of the Watsons, by Rose Servitova & Jane Austen (2019)

From the desk of Debra E. Marvin:

Author of The Longbourn Letters, Rose Servitova’s candid preface in A Completing of the Watsons intrigued me as much as the concept of someone taking on an incomplete Austen manuscript. It’s believed Miss Austen began the story around 1803, but it was no more than a partial manuscript at the time of her death. Published in that form by her nephew in 1871, the original document is safely archived ‘as is’ with her edits and revisions. Once I began Ms. Servitova’s novel, I immediately trusted her efforts—dare I say chutzpah—to be the latest to co-author with Jane Austen. What delicate kid slippers to fill!

A Daughter Returns to her Family

You’ll not be surprised to learn the story centers on a particular family of a kind, well-read, possibly dying gentleman lax in providing for his adult daughters. Around them, a circle of friends and acquaintances carries on with the business of gossip and country balls. Our protagonist is nineteen-year-old Emma Watson who’s returned home unexpectantly after being a long-time ward of her wealthy aunt and uncle. Because of this, both her family and their neighbors are practically strangers to her.

“Yes. Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor- which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony. She must marry, and I pray that it will happen soon,” said Elizabeth, “that she may rob a gentleman of his fortune and us of her company.”

Emma’s fourteen years away have produced a well-spoken and well-mannered young woman now surprised by the rather rough edges of two manipulative sisters, and the novelty of being the newest single female in want of a husband.

“Very well, my lord. If she is like her sisters, she will only want to be listened to.”

Emma Meets Local Society

Warned by her (thankfully) warm-hearted oldest sister Elizabeth, Emma’s introduction into local society commences with a ball where she encounters the much-sought-after bachelor Tom Musgrave, the awkward but monied Lord Osborne, the opinionated Soliman Tomlinson, the unassuming vicar with a mysterious past, Mr. Howard.

“I cannot imagine anything runs deep with that gentleman. If he is an example of the specimen of person we are to meet hereabouts, we may have to cut our trip short.”

A Home for her Heart?

Unlike the Bennet and Dashwood sisters, Emma initially did not anticipate her role as a financial savior for her family. Nor was she prepared for suitors who were suitably obnoxious, overbearing or softly unobtrusive, set so perfectly amid the cast of entertaining local characters. Can she find a home for her heart that won’t leave her family in want? Of course. But getting there provides readers of A Completing of the Watsons a pleasant, delightful tale!

A Plucky Heroine

Where Miss Austen’s and Ms. Servitova’s prose overlapped, I have no idea. The turns of phrase and the turn-of-that-century language were wonderful. I found many examples of laugh-out-loud quips you have the absolute right to expect. Emma has just enough pluck to stiffen her backbone when faced with family drama and the pressures of genteel society while remaining as kind and willing to mature as we’d want. After all, she must be worthy of that perfect proposal scene we’ve waited for.

An Elusive Missing Austen Work?

For me, the pure reading pleasure here was the skill at which the author provided the ‘telling details’ of glances, facial and body language that are so very important to our perception of that era! I could easily believe this was that dreamed about, elusive missing Austen work finally found hidden behind a stairwell wall! (I still want to believe, don’t you?)

A Lovely Submission

If I had any criticism of this story, it would be the very Austen-like practice of parading a long list of characters through the early chapters. Whatever Miss Austen had in mind for her final work-in-progress is lost to us. How lucky to have such a lovely submission here as consolation. I strongly recommend The Watsons!

5 out of 5 Stars

 


BOOK INFORMATION

  • A Completing of the Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen
  • Wooster Publishing (October 10, 2019)
  • Trade paperback & eBook (256) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1788461184
  • Genre: Austenesque, Historical Romance

AMAZONADD TO GOODREADS

We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Cover image courtesy of Wooster Publishing © 2019; text Debra E. Marvin © 2019, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate. Updated 1 January 2023

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11 thoughts on “A Completing of the Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen — A Review

Add yours

  1. A big thank you to Laurel Ann for the opportunity to be part of this tour. It’s not often I get to read something on time and not months later.
    With these two charming stories behind her, I’m quite curious as to what might be coming next from the author!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve whetted my appetite further to grab this one up. I especially noted that you couldn’t tell where the seams between authors happened and the style didn’t alter. Thanks, Debra!

    Liked by 2 people

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